Published on 21 Mar 2014

Met publicly apologises for shooting mother of six

The Metropolitan police has for the first time publicly apologised for the shooting of Cherry Groce, which sparked the 1985 Brixton riots.

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The mother of six was crippled by a police bullet during a raid on her home in search of one of her sons on suspicion of armed robbery (he was charged but later acquitted at trial).

She spent the next 26 years in a wheelchair. Her inquest is due to take place this summer and documents obtained by Channel 4 News reveal that a pathologist for the family and a pathologist for the police have both concluded that there is a causal link between the shooting and her death 26 years later.

Channel 4 News can also reveal the Met paid more than £0.5m in compensation to Mrs Groce but with no admission of liability. Now a secret 400 page report has emerged which may suggest otherwise.

It is the work of a senior West Yorkshire police officer, John Domaille, who was brought in to investigate the Met shooting in 1985.

But his findings have never been made public and were only disclosed to the Groce family in December 2013. While the report remains confidential, I have seen extracts in a letter sent to the Groce family rejecting their request for legal aid.

The investigating officer concludes “the operation was not reasonable and grave risks were created” and that ” at the very least (the shooter) Inspector Lovelock displayed professional ineptitude”.

Inspector Douglas Lovelock stood trial in 1987 on a charge of inflicting unlawful and malicious grievous bodily harm and was acquitted. There was no disciplinary action taken against him.

Only last year did the Metropolitan police privately apologise to the family. Today for the first time, the Met made that a public apology after an approach by Channel 4 News.

In a statement, Commander Neil Basu said: ” There is no doubt that the Met were responsible for the injuries to Mrs Groce in 1985 and it is only right that her family receives an apology.

“I am happy to for it to be known publicly that I met with her son in July of last year and offered him and his family an apology on behalf of the Metropolitan Police Service.”

But the family is now facing another battle with the authorities … this time over legal aid. They’ve been refused funds to be represented at the forthcoming inquest on the grounds, according to the Legal Aid Services, there are no new issues.

In a report leaked to Channel 4 News, the Met concludes there are no longer lessons to be learned from this case.
“None of the policies or guidance used at the time of the incident is still in existence … individual circumstances that resulted in the accidental shooting … cannot re-occur …”

That’s for the Met to prove at the inquest. The force will be represented by a QC, so will former Inspector Douglas Lovelock.

The only party which does not have legal representation is the family … as long as they are denied legal aid.

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21 reader comments

  1. Alan says:

    UK police are unaccountable to any but themselves and lawmakers. Along with the government they pose a danger to the public.

    1. Will Richards says:

      Some are…but most are not any kind of danger to the public, in fact, they are usually all there is between the kind of scum who routinely carry guns and knives, who think nothing of using them, and drug dealers, burglars, street robbers, rapists, and child molesters. You really need to get a fact or two in your comments mate, or they only serve to illustrate the fact that you simply don’t like the police…why is that?

  2. Gerard says:

    If Ch4 are concerned that the family will not be legally represented, they could always pay for that legal representation.

  3. The Wonderland says:

    If anyone comments on these, subjects, the british establishment will bear down hard on us.
    You are a journalist/reporter- and you are protected by your newspapers lawyers… Please comment on this statement.

  4. Helen says:

    Not sure about this request. It’s not clear what the ‘new information’ is. You say Mrs Groce received £.5 million in compensation but without admission of liability, then say a new secret report ‘ may suggest otherwise’ ??? What does this mean? She wasn’t paid? They did in fact admit liability?
    Also it’s not clear how the family is likely to benefit from representation, over and above the apology and compensation already issued, or indeed how a just outcome is more likely.
    If this is explained satisfactorily showing a real need for such representation to secure a just outcome for the family or society, then I’d be happy to sign.

  5. Gordon J Sheppard says:

    Lord Hailsham, ex Lord Chancellor of England, always saidL “Law is a myth without the consent of the people there is no Law”. Thus ‘LAW’ is naught but the People’s consent to live by the “Rule of Law”. Therefore, all that give their voluntary consent to live by ‘LAW’, are entitled to three specific things: 1. The right to participate in the framing of Law. 2. The right to the protection of Law., 3. The right to ‘equality’ within Law. Of course this family is entitled to the ‘protection of law’; in the provision of Legal Aid. Denied the right of the ‘protection of law’; there is no sense or value in ‘LAW’ at all.

  6. Rachel Roncone says:

    I am absolutely horrified this family and others have not been granted Legal Aid!
    Justice is blind ! So some would say! Please give this family the aid they need and justice may be served.

    1. David says:

      Whilst i am all for justice and defending the under dog, i am also for full possession of the facts. The family have proclaimed that a £0.5m payout was made and if the reports is true without admitting liability. Whilst the case is tragic, it seems that the victim dies a little over a quarter of a century after the event, and since i would need to be in full possession of the facts i would seriously doubt any finding which might suggest that this is the case. secondly, what of the £0.5m, what residual is left from that if any, and what id =s the actual purpose of the legal aid, a hearing is conducted by the coroner and is free, this might suggest that this is a witch hunt in order to secure what is nothing more than a chance to obtain further compensation. many questions are unanswered, why the were the police armed and at the victims address, why was a weapon discharged causing the victim to be shot, No Rachel, don’t just give them the funding, ask more questions and find out more and make an informed decision based on fact and not sympathy.

  7. Kate says:

    I’m white, middle-class, I thought the police were fine, by and large a good organisation, there to protect us from bad deeds and bad people. A few months ago my view was irrevocably changed, and I will never trust the police again. Cherry Groce suffered a horrific injustice. Her family should be granted legal aid. Stop the police abusing their power!

  8. Roger Gomes says:

    Just demands that this family has equal legal representation at the inquest.

  9. Keith Freedman says:

    As we live in a ,so called “FAIR” society,surely the Groce family should be granted
    legal aid

    1. Will Richards says:

      Some may believe we live in a fair society, or that at least we aspire to, but try being a dad in the so-called ‘family’ courts. Whoops…where’d all that fairness and equality go?

      Of course this family, like any other in similar circumstances, should have access to professional representation, and if they can’t afford it, the public purse should cover it. Justice, or at least a shot at justice, should not be limited to the wealthy

  10. Janet London says:

    The horrific injustice done to Cherry and her family is now to be further compounded by the absolute injustice of the denial of Legal Aid and therefore the denial of professional legal representation,at this long overdue inquest How shameful. The QC appearing for the other side should uphold the law he or she professes to serve and refuse to take part unless and until this wrong is righted . Good Luck Lee.

  11. Will Richards says:

    This certainly appears to be an extraordinary miscarriage of justice, but I think this report should be more transparent. Was Mrs Groce working at the time she was shot, so that the family would suffer financially (this would surely make a difference to compensation levels)? Has more than one expert opinion been sought in respect of the impact of Mrs Groce’s injuries on her life expectancy, because it is clear an expert was wrong in suggesting she would live for only a further 10 years, when she lived for a further 26! How old was she when she died (this information might suggest she died of natural causes, regardless of the injuries)? The final question I’d like to know is what was the background of the son the police were looking for, the answer to which might help us to understand why they were doing so with guns

    1. Ann says:

      Because he was a black man living in London in the eighties that’s why the police were armed, nothing more nothing less. Please open your mind, you don’t have to be black to see the injustice in this case!!

  12. Colette Pringle says:

    I honestly can’t believe that police officer got away with shooting this woman. What is going on here? He should be convicted and punished for his crime, disgraceful.

  13. nic mcGerr says:

    yet more evidence that when the state wishes to silence truth and justice there is plenty enough provision within law to allow it.
    The state through its prosecuting counsel will choose the type of terminology to use on a charge.
    Thus “malicious” is a word that can be overturned in court as with any “conspiracy” to murder (cf. J.Thorpe et al but not applied to the shooter).
    Perhaps the Met and Met officers continue to be smug about the protection given them but belief by people in any reality that Her Majesty’s Constabulary is there to serve anything other than its own provisions and career advancements is becoming more than tawdry.
    It is more than incredible but magnificent how there is patience, humility and bravery among people who continue to be forbearing under this constant grind and sham of there being something of the Queen’s peace.

  14. mikeno says:

    without legal aid there will be no justice, innocent people convicted, people representing themselves causing cases to take longer, the courts and our legal system will be a joke.
    It is a false economy to deny most people legal aid. the trigger happy cop inspector lovelock was obviously incompetent and unsuitable to be in charge of a gun, a well trained level headed person would not have made such a mistake shooting a woman.

  15. Paul Dixon says:

    We need a trustworthy police force. The police need this…the public need this…allow the family of Cherry Groce to be legally represented to put their case clearly and let justice be done and be seen to be done.

  16. Michael Severin says:

    It seems to me that the victim, in this matter, should get the benefit of legal aid. Bearing in mind that the austerity measures that affect so many taxpayers require that we cut back services, such as Legal Aid, is it not possible for any award that might result from legal action be shared in some reasonable proportion so that the costs to the government (the taxpayer) be reduced?

  17. Steven Booth says:

    Just what are the authorities afraid of as they seem to be content to ride roughshod over those they are supposed to protect. I too used to have great respect for the police in this country but I’m afraid that is no longer the case. I have to ask myself why anyone would want to join such an endemically corrupt organisation to the extent that I have refused to give references to a couple of people who asked me when they wanted to join; on the basis that it would ruin what are perfectly honest and nice people. In the case of the one who did get in I was proven to be correct unfortunately. They join with the best of intentions but those best intentions very soon disappear due to peer pressure.

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